SK Telecom, South Korea’s leading mobile operator, recently published a white paper that critically assesses 5G technology, The Register reports. The document, titled “Lessons Learned from 5G, Key 6G Requirements, 6G Network Evolution and 6G Spectrum”, argues that 5G was widely publicized but failed to meet expectations.

Initially, 5G was touted as a revolutionary technology that would enable various applications such as autonomous driving, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), augmented reality (AR), and digital twins. However, these areas of development have not been fully successful due to a number of factors, such as device limitations, immaturity of the technology, lack of market demand, and regulatory concerns.

The document notes that some of the goals set by the Radiocommunication Sector of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU-R) for 5G have been achieved, but many are still far from being completed. This has led to inflated expectations among consumers, who expected a significant technological leap similar to the transition from 3G to LTE. Instead, 5G has been more of an incremental improvement on existing technology, making it less noticeable to users.

Despite the criticism, the document recognizes that 5G has certain advantages. For example, SK Telecom has seen a 70% reduction in data costs per gigabyte compared to LTE, and 5G users consume 50% more data than users of previous generation networks.

The document states that the upcoming 6G technology, which is expected to debut in 2030, can take into account the shortcomings of 5G. The operator therefore calls for a collaborative approach between all ecosystem stakeholders to avoid past mistakes. This could lead to more use cases, better spectrum management, and simpler architecture options.